State of the Nation: USA

Date published: July 1 2016

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With the June internationals now done and dusted, we take a look at the state of affairs in each of the competing nations. Next up, USA.

After a disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign, in which they lost all four their pool matches, former All Blacks boss John Mitchell was appointed as the Eagles' new head coach at the start of the year.

One of the first things Mitchell did, after his appointment, was to recall veteran back-row Todd Clever to captain the USA for their Americas Rugby Championship campaign.

Clever was axed from the Eagles squad on the eve of last year's Rugby World Cup under dubious circumstances by former coach Mike Tolkin.

The USA started their Americas Rugby Championship campaign with a hard-fought draw against an Argentina XV before claiming a deserved victories over Canada and Chile.

But they suffered a shock defeat to Brazil in their next fixture and things went from bad to worse as they also lost their next match against Uruguay, which meant they had to settle for second place, behind the Argentina XV, in the tournament's final standings. 

Mitchell didn't let those defeats get him down though, and during the June internationals the Eagles bounced back with impressive performances against Italy and Russia. 

They delivered a competitve showing before suffering a narrow loss to Italy – a side who were five places above them in the World Rankings at the time – and it was no surprise that Eagles had little trouble in beating Russia in their next match the following week. That latter result moved them up one spot to 17th position in the rankings.

Players like fly-half AJ MacGinty and centre Thretton Palamo – who will ply their trades in the Premiership with Sale and Bristol respectively in the 2016/17 season – have come on in leaps and bounds over the last year, while veterans like Clever and winger Takudzwa Ngwenya's experience have also proved vital during this period.

The USA as a country has lots of potential to become a force in the game as they have a growing rugby infrustructure. The newly established USA PRO League is the first professional competition to be sanctioned by USA Rugby and World Rugby.

The abovementioned tournament is a step in the right direction as it will help with the development of the game in the country.

The game in the USA did suffer a setback though, with the departure of Nigel Melville who resigned from his role as chief executive Officer of USA Rugby at the end of June. Melville returned to England where he has accepted the role as the Rugby Football Union's Director of Professional Rugby.

It remains to be seen what impact Melville's departure has on rugby in the USA as he played an important role in growing the game during his tenure, which started in 2006.

Read the rest of our State of the Nation pieces following the June Tests right here.

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